I am not a problem to be fixed.
I am a glorious mystery to be embraced.
Too often we define ourselves by one experience. We are not one thing, one feeling, one trauma, one failure.
The last 10 years of my life have been a journey to accept all the parts of who I am. The insecurities, the defensiveness, the part who fears abandonment, the poet, the lover, the good man, the wild man. All of who I am.
"Can you welcome that part?" was a favorite question my brilliant mentor and therapist Francis Weller would often ask when I described a defensive reaction or a shameful part of me. "Where is that story located in your body and how do you feel towards it?" a favorite question from my current, soulful, insightful therapist Angela Agenlian-Neuert. "Welcome the outcast brother" is a favorite refrain in my men's circles as we encourage each other to welcome the parts who were cast away so many years ago.
These aspects of our selves which confound us the most present the greatest potential source of our healing. The addictions, the depressions, the shameful feelings, repeated patterns in relationships all can be teachers, pointing to parts of our selves which need compassion, not blame.
For too long I defined myself by my wounds or the vicious internal criticisms which said “Oh if you only weren’t so sensitive, or if you only weren’t so insecure... You would be happy, you would be accepted….” I wanted to get rid of being sensitive or make myself into some macho confident facade. Anything other than what I was feeling.
Embracing all of who I am, the stories, the glorious parts, even the critical parts, has been a huge theme and learning for me. It continues to be an ongoing, perhaps lifelong, practice. We need to look within with love rather than with blame. We need to welcome these wounded parts rather than trying to get rid of them because we think they get in the way of our happiness. As wise people before have stated, “What is in the way is the way.”
Accepting all of who I am is not saying, “I eat chocolate chip cookies 'till my head starts buzzing, oh well, I accept myself”. Accepting all of who I am is being compassionately curious and holding all these parts with respect. “Hmm, I’m eating a lot of chocolate chip cookies, what’s that about? It’s probably not the most healthy for me, but I’m not going to shame myself. What story is happening here?”
Accepting ourselves and holding our brokenness is easier if we have a community who can also hold our brokenness. We weren’t built to do things alone. We need each other and we need to do our own work as well. A balance can be established. We can’t just let someone else fix us or love us into complete wholeness, we need to participate in that loving. The community holds us and our higher adult selves hold ourselves as well. I view the poem at the end of this writing expressing both holding each other and holding ourselves.
I dance most Sunday mornings and still haven’t really gotten used to walking into a large room full of people I don’t know. If I feel fear or nervousness, I don’t suck in my gut and soldier on, I say to myself, “I’m scared” and then envision who is scared inside and let them tell me a bit about their story, what they believe, what they think will happen. I welcome this part (usually a very young one), I listen, I say “I understand where you are coming from, it makes sense and you know what? We’re going to be OK” I may then dance with that part for a couple of songs and then let my adult breathe into the greater dance. In this exchange I understand a little more about the wounds and stories which used to unconsciously drive my behavior and interactions. I bring the wounds and stories into a compassionate conscious awareness. My relationships benefit from vulnerably sharing this awareness which in turn creates greater intimacy.
We need each other
To model accepting ourselves
To love each other
To be held
As I reflected one day on accepting and holding our brokenness the following poem emerged:
Being Held, Being Loved
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Jose Enciso is an engineer by profession, a poet by necessity and a seeker of spirit and soul. He brings a gentle presence and deep respect for the interior journey as expressed through creative and expressive arts. Jose is a skilled group facilitator who is committed to the spiritual and psychological growth of those around him. He trained under Francis Weller to lead men’s initiation groups doing deep soul work and is equally comfortable in managing complex technical projects. Jose is devoted to the emergence of the divine feminine, supporting women and men claiming their voice and power, and rediscovering the soul of masculinity. He is currently working on multiple projects including a book which seeks to encourage everyone to write their own poetry as a discovery of their own soul's truth.